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International Basketball Relaxes Religious Headgear Rules

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced that it will relax current rules which ban all headgear—including religious headgear required by Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish religions—for a two-year testing phase.

During this time, nations can apply for exceptions to the uniform regulations at the national level by submitting a detailed request to FIBA, plus submit follow-up reports twice a year to monitor the use of those exceptions. Before playing in some FIBA-endorsed competitions, players will have to submit a detailed request for approval.

"FIBA has taken a step towards change, but this policy alteration will continue to lead to an unequal playing field," said Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). "We hope that FIBA will soon recognize Sikhs, Muslims and Orthodox Jews can freely play with their respective articles of faith and not require process or paperwork to play beyond their home countries.”

Players may still be required to remove religious headgear in international matches outside their home country, and permanent changes will not be decided until 2016.

“We are deeply touched by the support we received from Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike,” said Singh of the #LetSikhsPlay protests launched after Sikh and Muslim players were not allowed to compete unless they uncovered their heads. “Many voices came together and demanded to let Sikhs play, and we hope they continue to join us as we ask FIBA to let Sikhs play freely."

#LetSikhsPlay
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced that it will relax current rules which ban all headgear—including religious headgear required by Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish religions—for a two-year testing phase. LIU JIN / AFP - GETTY IMAGES FILE

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